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The city will direct American Rescue Plan Act dollars to an initiative that will involve residents doing neighborhood projects, while also completing job training or earning high school degrees.
Detroit will use up to $75 million in federal pandemic aid for a three-year workforce program that will pay more than 2,000 residents to learn new job skills, while they also work on neighborhood improvement projects, Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday.
Participants will divide their time each week between training and work. The work could include cleaning up parks and blighted lots and clearing trash, graffiti and overgrown vegetation. The plan is for the first 1,200 participants in the program to work with the city's General Services Department and another 1,000 to be posted with other city departments that have similar needs, according to the mayor's office.
The city is calling the program Skills for Life.
“Not only will participants get paid a living wage to learn new skills, get practical on the job experience and earn their GED or diploma, they will be contributing significantly to the beautification of our city," Duggan said in a statement.
Three days a week, program participants will work with city departments and two days a week they'll take part in vocational training or study to complete their high-school diplomas or GEDs. Job training could involve areas like earning a commercial truck driver's license or learning to operate other equipment.
“There is no industry more in-demand right now than skilled trades—both at a local and a national level,” said Detroit's group executive for services and infrastructure, Brad Dick. “Skills for Life participants are going to be offered training in skilled and other trades along with IT and other highly in-demand careers."
How much time people spend in the program will depend on the jobs they're training for. But the mayor's office said the hope is that most participants will remain with the initiative for up to a year. Skills for Life is expected to run for three years.
Money for the program is coming from pandemic aid Detroit is receiving under the American Rescue Plan Act. The city is slated to get an $826 million payment through the law's main direct aid program for state and local governments.
Bill Lucia is a senior editor at Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.